If you are a McGill student, odds are you have heard of Super Sandwich. Or, if you are my roommate, you have eaten it every single day you have been on campus for the past year without fail. Wherever you fall on this spectrum, you can agree that Super Sandwich provides a necessary community service.
As a frequent Super Sandwich consumer, I was curious to find out the story behind the restaurant-slash-depanneur’s inception. Turns out, the neon Super Sandwich sign outside the store has been lying to us, and we have been loyal customers of Charcuterie Le Cartier, not Super Sandwich, this whole time! Jerry and Jocelyn Lo opened Charcuterie Le Cartier in 1988 as a convenience store and deli. They are originally from Mauritius and their children Mathis and Jenny Lo were born and raised in Oslo, Norway.
Mathis and Jenny started out by helping their parents with the family business on weekends. After they graduated, their father was no longer able to run the business, so they took over in 2005. It has become a staple of McGill culture ever since. Mathis takes the orders and processes the payments, while Jenny makes the sandwiches.
As a prospective McGill student, I was sent a list of places to check out in Montreal by a family friend who had graduated from McGill in the mid-2000s, and Super Sandwich was at the very top of that list. The unassuming location of the deli coupled with its lack of advertising anywhere on campus made me curious as to how so many people knew about it, especially considering the disconnect between pre and post-COVID students. While Mathis concedes that COVID-19 lockdowns were very difficult for the business due to the lack of students on campus, this semester has been one of their most successful ever.
The passion that Mathis and Jenny share for their business is apparent when they discuss it.
“I think there’s not one day in my life that I woke up and said that I don’t want to go to work [….] I guess it’s because most of my customers are students. Students are busy with their studies and don’t have time to give a person like me a hard time,” Mathis said in an interview with The McGill Tribune.
Mathis amusingly points out that he used to make friends with customers in his younger days but doesn’t anymore, now that he’s older. However, he has become quite close to some customers and has even attended a couple of their weddings.
On the topic of weddings, Mathis himself met his late wife working at Super Sandwich. She was a management student at McGill who came into the store regularly to buy sandwiches.
Mathis credits the business’s success to the fair pricing of their sandwiches, as well as the speed with which their customers are served. That speed is in part thanks to his memorization of around 75 customers’ orders.
“If I already know the order, it saves time. It’s funny, sometimes the customer and [I] just have to look or nod at each other without speaking and we know,” Mathis said.
If you are an avid Super Sandwich customer, you have probably heard the chatter about it possibly closing down or moving. Mathis explained that they are currently in talks with their landlords about their lease and are uncertain about how long they will be able to stay at their current location. If staying entails raising their prices to an unsustainable level, they will have to move.
With its close link to the McGill community, some have wondered if the business will ever make its way to campus. However, Mathis is wary of the McGill administration’s lengthy wait times for adding new food vendors on campus.
“We also inquired about a location on McGill campus, but unlike Super Sandwich, it takes a bit more time to get an answer.”